Audio note Dac question


I don't hear much talk on the Gon about the Audio Note Dac kits. I know they may be a bit dated but they still look interesting to me. I am in the market for a new dac and really like building kits when ever I can. I was considering either the 2.1 or the 3.1 kit. If anyone can shed some light on them it would be a great help.

I am also considering the Benchmark Dac 1 usb. I had one when they first came out with the NE5555 opamps and ended up selling it. I wasn't that impressed with it at the time, then again the system I have now is much better than what I had. I have also heard they sound better with the LM4562 opamps.

Thanks for the help
Fc911c - it is NE5532. It was made by Signetics (Philips) until factory burned down in 2000/2001. Texas Instruments bought license, redesigned die (larger) and obtained fuller sound. Early Benchmarks, with Signetics chips, sounded a little thin. Ti Chip has TI logo on the top (Texas state outline). I replaced TI NE5532 (all of them) with National Semi LME49860 with good results. Sound is more vivid and cleaner. I also tried other opamps like OPA1612 but did not care for the sound (very dynamic and warm but also very bassy, lacking transparency). My Benchmark, before and after mods, sounded bright with aluminum dome tweeters. Now it sounds nice and soft with Hyperions HPS-938 that use soft domes. I suspect that Benchmark reveals, in many systems, bright amps or speakers while other (warm) DACs mask it. Also, not everybody likes clean sound. A little distortion adds dynamics. I even found opinion that instruments should not sound separately but all together (like sound blob). People try to repeat whatever they had before. To me Benchmark sounded unnaturally clean at first but now I'm very happy. Perhaps I got used to it (or learned to listen).
Hi Kijanki
thanks for clearing that up. It has been a while LOL. I know what you mean, sometimes my system sounds different on different days.
I upgraded to the 2.1 from the 1.1 and haven't yet heard a dac under $3k that I prefer, the Benchmark included.

USB and balanced in/out are options, and the chip supports up to 24/96 so I don't consider it dated enough to outweigh that I really appreciate the AN's sonic signature.
Thanks Joncourage

Did you upgrade to the 2.1 A or B?
anyone else on the AN Dac?? I changed my mind on the Benchmark.
I have an EXTENSIVELY & HIGHLY modified AN kit DAC - it started life as a 3.1 equivalent - you'll have to check out my system page. It blows away every other digital source I have personally heard without doubt and was my end-point, crowning achievement for my digital front end. If you enjoy the analogue sound rather than the analytical sound of CD's than you will be VERY happy and the kit offers the added ability to "pay as you go" upgrade, with the sky as the limit... caps, resistors, and transformers offer real improvements as you go up the ladder. I would highly recommend the TRANS-497 I/V transformer upgrade as pretty high on your list, they will add significant cost ($3,000 aprox for the pair) yet you will get significant improvement in micro and macro resolution - amazingly natural and acoustic. As far as caps go - you can go up the AN line to stick with the AN sound or you can go to V-Caps. I have V-Caps in mine but some folks feel its sacrilegious lol.

Cannot wait till I can eventually finish mine with the Super Perma nickel core double silver wound output transformers at a staggering $11,000 aprox for the pair they will double my investment by themselves.

Thanks for sharing that it looks like a very nice Dac. I don't think I would be able to take mine to your level but you sound very happy with it. I was thinking of starting with the 2.1A and go from there. The 497 transformers would be something I might consider later on.

What would you say the best upgrades would be for the 2.1A on a budget?

FC, mine is the 2.1a, built by Pete Fulton (digitalpete).

I may replace it with the 3.1 next month, to get the balanced outputs.

(if you're in the market for a 2.1a around then, get in touch)

I have the 2.1x sig.dac and the AN cdt2 transport. I have been interested in the PS Audio transport. Would you comment on this transport as well as any other transport you have used with your very fine dac?
I`m sure Grateful has his own opinion on the PS Audio PWT but in my experience this transport is stunning good! Transparent,very open and highly resolving. Best of all it is just 'natural' in sound and tone.At lease in my system it has 'zero' clinical-sterile characteristics, it very organic mated to my Yamamoto YDA DAC.
Joncourage, why not just upgrade yours?

overall it would be just about the same cost to upgrade the 2.1 to balanced outputs as it would to sell the 2.1 and get a 3.1 with balanced.

the cost of the upgrade components, installation, and shipping the unit back and forth, not to mention the inconvenience of being without a DAC for a couple of weeks, turn out very close to just getting a 3.1 balanced made new.
of course, that's not accounting for my investment in premium NOS tubes, but I tend to exclude that since it was money spent after-the-fact (logical or not!)
ok got it, thanks. What NOS or other tubes do you use?
Joncourage,how would I contact you? Looks like you cant contact members?
Hey FC,

I put a couple of matched nos amperex bugle boys and an RCA in. One other I don't remember atm.

You can find me at joncourage(at)ymail(dot)com
Here is a review I wrote of the PWT
As far as upgrades go - I briefly reviewed the AN Kit site for a refreshment and would definitely start, at least, with the 2.1 B kit - the I/V transformers are a crucial link in natural digital conversion, in my opinion. I did not notice if the "signature digital board" is included or not with the 2.1 B but if not should be done. Next, if you can find a AD 1865 N-K chip, that is a surprisingly cheap upgrade - I remember I found mine at an online electronics distributor for $50 - they can be hard to find though. I am also a big fan of the open, crisp, natural, unavailing V-Caps have on sound, they are pricy but I recommend when you want to spend a bit more.
Also, I agree with Charles1dad, the PWT is definitely natural and transparent... On another note, I have not had personal experience with the 47 Labs Flatfish but have been recommended towards it by several folks for it's naturalness - I have also heard it can be a bit finicky though (and the reason I have not tried)...
On another inspection of the kit web site, I see the 2.1 kit can be had in 12AU7 drivers instead of the 6922 - this may be of interest. I use 12AU7 Mullard “long plate square getter” in my MP3 preamp and love them, plus I believe 12AU7 are more competitively priced than comparable 6922 tubes - anyway, my 2 cent

My DAC board uses 5687 drive tubes (kit 2.1 c / 3.1 +) and I use 7119 Amperex lovingly.
Thanks Grateful for all the info.
anyone else on the AN Dac??

I had a very tricked out 2.1b Signature AN Kits Dac. AN silver outputcaps,6922 tubes, upgraded BG caps on the digital board, and seriously upgraded BG caps on the M2 power supply board. I had the Dac for about two years and had to sell it for financial reasons last summer. Makes me sick everytime I think about it! AN Kits Dac's really do offer a very real alternative or compliment to vinyl.
Good Luck,

Thanks Rodge, sorry you had to part with it. Exactly what caps were changed on the M2 board?
Sorry for the late response. I'm not sure of the values of the caps as I did not build the dac. Since I suck with a solder gun, I had the dac built by a friend who has the same unit. He is very "secretive" about what he does, and therefore wont tell me of the caps used. I went through the pics that I had and couldn't make out the values. My thought would be to ask Brian Smith the values on the new upgraded M2 board and replace them with Black Gates. When my dac was built Brian was only offering the standard M2 board with smaller caps. Hence the upgrade to larger BG's.
Ok no problem, Thanks Rodge